As was explained in our last blog, the Data Team has been collating and entering all the information relating to every vehicle's condition into an Excel database. This, including the sorting and labelling of thousands of photos, has taken many months to complete.
On completion, an even more daunting task awaited us, as the curator then wanted a full technical report - cum dossier - on every vehicle in the museum's collection - which is around 300 vehicles.
With the museum's excellent reading library (open to the public) and vast archive section (not open to the public - see below) all the information we required on the vehicles was there. Somewhere! What quickly became apparent was that information on any standard, non prototype, vehicle from around 1948 to the present was not too hard to come by. Most of the information was obtainable from vehicle and road tests in past editions of Motor or Autocar magazine, plus a bit of research from the library or the internet.
Sometimes our task was made very easy, as with the 1948 Morris Minor. The full road test and vehicle specification was found in Autocar dated 26th November 1948 and the actual car was the one in the museum (see photos above).
However, this was very much the exception, rather than the rule. With any vehicle built prior to WW11, or a prototype, racing car, record breaking special and in particular the many derivatives of Land Rover the museum has, the task has required a lot of patience and research.
This is one page of the detailed technical report form and a happy volunteer doing his research.
The information required is very detailed and covers all specifications relating to the engine, transmission (including gear ratios), steering, suspension, brakes, body/chassis materials and construction. All dimensions relating to turning circle, track, width and length of the vehicle as well its kerbside weight are part of the report.
The main reason for generating all this detail is to enhance the viewing experience at the new Museum Collections Centre, due to open towards the end of 2015. One of the options being looked at is providing electronic information pods at strategic points throughout both the existing and new museums containing a full technical data report on every vehicle.
So, when you turn up at the new museum and want a lot more information on say, the 1951 Rover Marauder Tourer, you should be able at the nearest pod, to get all the answers you want, including its price when new.
That's the plan and hopefully we can complete it by Autumn 2015.
Whilst the large archive section is not open to the public, the material and information contained therein can be viewed by appointment with the archive staff.